When your mental health isn’t in a good place, it is important to ask for help. There are plenty of resources for people dealing with anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, stress, and other such factors. Experienced therapists will help you navigate the emotional minefield and get on a healthier track. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to therapists and must look at alternatives. This help is available online.
The Internet has opened several doors. It has allowed people to access products or services they couldn’t before the advent of this platform. It’s not really surprising that this platform has several online counseling and therapy establishments. But are these counseling services really as effective as the ones you’ll receive from your local health center? This article will help you determine that.
Online Therapists vs. Local Health Center – The Concerns
Both online therapists and local health center professionals will provide similar services if they have the right skills. Before you choose one option over the other, consider the following concerns first:
• Legitimacy and Qualifications – You can’t be a certified and permitted therapist without proper qualifications. Most governments implement strict standards to ensure patients get the best services possible. It is easy to verify all qualifications and certification at a local health center but not online. That’s why many people question the legitimacy of online establishments. However, there are platforms that host qualified therapists who can be verified as authentic. It’s just a matter of finding these platforms.
• Privacy and Anonymity – All information you share with your therapist is confidential, whether you choose a local practitioner or an online counselling. However, you get an additional benefit of anonymity with an online therapist. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Personal interaction with a therapist who knows and understands your personality is more effective than online anonymous communication. However, some people won’t even consider visiting a therapist if they’re forced to reveal their identity. In such cases, some help is much better than no help at all.
• Cost – Online therapists don’t have to deal with many overhead costs. This means they can afford to offer their services at a much more affordable rate. This affordability ensures people in less stable financial conditions still get the support they need. A therapist at a local center might not be too expensive, but their services will cost more than an online counselor’s simply because of higher overhead costs.
• Convenience – It is much more convenient to talk to a therapist from the comfort of your home than visiting their office. Many patients find this appealing and are more responsive to therapy because they’re comfortable. This is one of the biggest advantages of an online therapist over a local one. While some therapist might be willing to visit a patient in their home, most only offer services at their office. Such unfamiliar environments can intimate patients and discourage visits.
• Stigma – Many patients avoid therapists even though they need one desperately because of the stigma attached to poor mental health. They worry about people seeing them visiting a therapist or finding out about their mental health concerns. With online counseling, this isn’t a concern and no one needs to know unless you choose to tell them. The lack of stigma allows patients to heal faster and feel better over time.
As these points show, there are pros and cons of hiring an online therapist to assist you. If you find the right person, regular therapy sessions will place you on a quick road to recovery.
When to Choose a Local Therapist?
There are some concerns an online therapist can’t safely handle. You need a local therapist to help you recover and become stable. It is possible to seek online assistance after the more serious concerns are resolved. You need a local therapist if:
• You experience suicidal thoughts.
• You are actively self-harming.
• You’re thinking of self-harming.
• You want to hurt someone else.
A local therapist will provide more in-depth look guidance, which is essential in more serious cases.
What are Online Therapist Sessions Like?
The sessions are similar to local therapist services. The first consultation is the ‘getting to know each other’ phase. The therapist will ask a series of questions to understand your concerns. Every session after that is about finding a problem and resolving it. This process can be as long or as short as the patient needs.
You can also change your online therapist if your first choice doesn’t suit you. Changing therapists is easy because you just need to search for other therapists on the same platform. If they’re open to taking more patients, just book an appointment with them.
Online therapy platforms also provide many perks that you can’t find with regular therapists. For example, most platforms offer a private chat box where you can post mental health status, issues, setbacks, etc. Therapists check these private boxes regularly and make note of important information from these comments. That can help with the therapy process.
It is possible to find a great online therapist with some careful research and caution. If you can’t find a reliable and legitimate online therapist, book an appointment with one at your local health center as soon as you can. Neglecting mental health will only worsen the problem over time.